Published on:

30 January 2023

Updated on:

15 May 2023

Read time:

3 minutes

Alannah Laud


“The metaverse is a vision of what many in the computer industry believe is the next iteration of the internet: a single, shared, immersive 3D virtual space where humans experience life in ways they could not in the physical world.”

Linda Tucci, industry editor,

Designer, Alannah Laud considers the concept behind the Metaverse and wonders if this could cross over to the mainstream and replace the office any time soon.

In today’s working world it’s standard practice for a business or an individual to have an online presence. Website, portfolio or professional profile; it’s all curated and placed online. That’s how we connect and engage on a professional level.

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In the last few years, there’s been an increasing demand for a 3D platform to collectively host business communications and connectivity. The pandemic accelerated the requirement and proved that there’s always a way. Fast forward through the teething pains relating to this form of connectivity and the majority of the office-based working population, supported by programmes like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, found that they could do their jobs just as well working remotely – and it’s proven to be a hard habit to break.

In our post-pandemic world, employers understand they must meet staff expectation and, as studies have shown, a large proportion of workers have chosen to continue working from home; most companies have adopted flexible hybrid and freedom working models that enable the worker to choose where they will work according to what environment best suits certain tasks.

Research from companies like Owl Labs and Ergotron reflect that the hybrid approach is most popular with workers and causes the least amount of stress, according to the Forbes website. Now regarded by many office job seekers as a standard expectation, the level of flexibility in the working model is key when it comes to helping employers attracting and retaining talent.

So, what if you took the more attractive hybrid model and took it to its ultimate conclusion, moving with complete freedom between all working worlds? It wouldn’t matter where you were physically, your computer screen would provide a portal to an improved, souped up version of real life, where digital versions of us move between experiences.

This evolutionary, life-changing concept is what’s referred to as the Metaverse. For enthusiasts, it offers limitless new business opportunities, the potential to collaborate and the benefit of equal access to all. For cynics, there’s a big question mark over how it will all pan out…

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The vision

The Metaverse is still an idea that is forming; waiting to take shape. Most of us have had a go at the video games involving avatars we can control; managing their interactions with their on-screen environment. The Metaverse provides a similar user experience, offering an online world that facilitates user interaction, using augmented and virtual reality.

With developing technology, such as VR headsets and motion capture, you can create a personal 3D avatar, which accurately reflects your movement and body language. Used for types of gaming, there’s no reason why this avatar couldn’t function in a workplace setting, interacting with other avatars (colleagues) in an online meeting room; creating a fully immersive business experience that would contribute to productivity and engagement.

Writing for, Linda Tucci pinpoints how enterprises are currently experimenting with metaverse applications in the workplace, building on the virtual applications companies deployed to support remote work during the pandemic: “An early application of metaverse technologies involves workplace training. Some hospitals are already using VR and AR to train for common medical procedures…”

Then and now

For those who are able to cast back to the working world of the 90s, email was just starting to gain traction as a communication tool in the workplace, with limited personal use. Fast forward twenty-five years or so and none of us can imagine existing without it.

The Zoom, Teams and Google Hangout meet of the 2020s is the email of the 90s, presenting a new era of communication. But how close are we to replacing these with a true metaverse, where lifelike interactions are possible?

In his 2022 annual report, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates predicted a shift for businesses in the direction of the use of 3D meeting spaces, with participants appearing as avatars, in the next two to three years. Mark Zuckerberg went a step further and renamed Facebook ‘Meta’ declaring “from now on, we will be metaverse first.” However this gamble appears not to have paid off in the short term, with the business arm responsible for metaverse development expected to lose more than $10 million in the last year. Stock has fallen, staff have been laid off and some analysts are predicting its collapse altogether.

There are most definitely practical challenges still to overcome, including ready access and affordability. Leading theorist of the metaverse Matthew Ball warns to avoid the hype in his book ‘The Metaverse and how it will Revolutionise Everything’, cautioning that it will take time for companies to figure out exactly what to build. However, he believes that VR will be a secondary device and has previously likened the Metaverse to games like Fortnite, which offer users sufficient presence through consoles and a headset without requiring a fully immersive experience.

Not right now

It could be that we’re simply not there just yet. The pandemic showed us that technology could connect us when there was no other means of reaching people – it also showed us that, ultimately, people need each other. They still want the opportunity to meet in the flesh and interact, which is paramount to team building.

Office workers may not have returned to provide commercial space with the capacity of occupancy there was before the pandemic – but they did return. The message is, we’re not ready for the future right now - but we are constantly moving and progressing towards a virtual solution that enhances online connectivity and interaction. The Metaverse, in one form or another, will be with us one day.

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Meet the Author

A highly qualified and experienced designer, with a strong knowledge and experience of the commercial sector. Alannah is renowned for her outstanding creativity and inspirational design work. Demonstrating an effortless ability to lead and to educate, she is a natural choice when it comes to directing client briefing sessions and detailing a project.